Food Psych #179: How to Avoid Falling for The Wellness Diet This New Year with Colleen Reichmann


Anti-diet therapist Colleen Reichmann joins us to discuss how to keep from falling prey to diet culture, the problem with Whole30 and other forms of The Wellness Diet, why true well-being is about so much more than food and movement, a quick way to tell if your “lifestyle change” is really a diet, why eating-disorder diagnoses are often problematic, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about how to handle envy for people who seem to be “successfully managing” their weight.

Dr. Colleen Reichmann is a licensed clinical psychologist, practicing in Williamsburg, VA. She works in her private practice, Wildflower Therapy, and is a staff psychologist at the College of William and Mary. She is recovered from an eating disorder, and this experience sparked her passion for spreading knowledge and awareness that recovery is possible. She is now an eating disorders specialist, and has worked at various treatment facilities including University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro Center for Eating Disorder Care, and The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt. She is an advocate for intersectional feminism, body liberation, fat acceptance, and Health At Every Size. She speaks at national and regional eating disorder conferences, and writes about body image and eating disorders for MORELove Project, Project HEAL, The Mighty, Recovery Warriors, Adios Barbie, and more. Find her online at

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We Discuss:

  • The different factors that contributed to Colleen’s multifaceted relationship with food growing up

  • The insidious nature of wellness culture

  • Colleen’s foray into dieting, and eventually her eating disorder

  • How diet culture keeps disordered eating under the radar

  • Why eating-disorder diagnoses are often problematic

  • The importance of receiving treatment even when diagnostic criteria are not met

  • The power of empathy and validation, and how feeling invalidated triggered Christy further into her eating disorder

  • How Colleen’s college experience intensified her eating disorder, and the restrictive culture at some college campuses

  • Bamboo as an analogy for eating-disorder recovery

  • How Colleen’s eating disorder morphed to a “wellness” focus in graduate school

  • The problem with Whole30 and other “wellness” diets

  • Orthorexia, and the need for more research and awareness

  • The Wellness Diet, how it is really the modern incarnation of diet culture, and why it’s so problematic

  • How wellness culture capitalizes on people’s fears of illness and death

  • Privilege and oppression in clean eating and diet culture

  • Christy’s upcoming book, and how it traces the history of diet culture

  • A quick way to tell whether your lifestyle change is really a diet

  • How true well-being is about so much more than food and movement

  • How Colleen recovered from her eating disorder, and why she works in eating disorder recovery today

  • Health At Every Size®, and why it is crucial in eating-disorder treatment and recovery

  • Diet culture and fatphobia in eating-disorder treatment, and how it gets in the way of full recovery

  • Why it’s important for clinicians to work through their own biases in order to provide ethical eating-disorder treatment


Resources Mentioned

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Listener Question of the Week

How can we give up the envy of those who seem to be able to stay at a lower weight through dieting and restriction? How can we give up the feelings of failure for not being able to stay at a lower weight? What is some of the research that shows the high failure rates of diets? What is likely happening when people are able to maintain a lower weight? What is thin privilege, and how is it related to other forms of privilege like male privilege or white privilege?

(Resources Mentioned:

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